Posts Tagged With: Wicca

Wicca v Witchcraft

Wicca v Witchcraft

Author: Irishdize

What are some of the differences between a Witch and a Wiccan?

Wiccans believe in and worship deities, usually a male and female God or a God and Goddess. Most Witches either worship only the Goddess or see the Goddess as a personification of nature, as I do. Wicca is one religion with laws, such as the Wiccan rede and the law of three. The rede says ‘an it harm none, do what ye will’. While I think it’s a wonderful law that covers just about everything you could ever wonder about, I don’t and cannot follow it. I simply instead do the best I can, given my circumstances. I don’t believe in ‘the law of three’ either which is whatever I send out ‘will come back to me times three’. I certainly believe in the law of Return, but it doesn’t work in quite the same way. Whatever I send out does return, but right away and is usually the exact same lesson reversed back at me. As you might surmise, I am not Wiccan.

Another key difference is that Wiccans will generally take gods and goddesses from mythology and call upon them for certain help, such as calling Aphrodite when they are doing a love spell. I simply do not need to use mythological deities to make my magic work; Magic is using natural energies that exist within me and around me in Nature to bring about change. In fact, one can believe that God doesn’t exist and still work Magic. Wiccans have a Wheel of the Year that they celebrate. There are eight holidays — starting on Oct 31st ‘Samhain’ or the Witches New Years. Their holiday structure has four high holy days and four low days as well as 13 Moons, some full and some new, when Magic is usually worked or divination is usually done.

I have random ritual days wherein I will spend the entire day or night in ritual, reading, contemplating, spirit dancing, or just connecting to the trees, rocks, the grass, whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes I will watch spiritually uplifting movies or listen to Native American music. Sometimes, I will just sleep or do readings by dice and Tarot. It’s all unplanned and very spontaneous whereas in Wicca, it’s usually planned down to the letter. Spells are written out before they are performed, as are rituals and of course, as I said, they know what day is a ritual day and what not. Most Wiccans I have encountered believe that their strongest magic can only happen on Full and New Moons. I disagree completely. Magic comes from within; it doesn’t matter what day or night one performs it and it doesn’t matter how well written your spell is or what tools you have (if you even have any tools) .

Most Wiccans have many tools and an Athame to direct energy or cast the circle. This is done for many reasons I am told: to create sacred space, to have a protective barrier against negative energies, lurking spirits or unexpected Visitors (human or animal) or to keep the magic within the circle until they are ready to send it out to do its purpose.

Witches like myself generally see no reason for a circle. Nature is holy; The Universe is Divine. There is no place in Nature that is not sacred already to us, so if the circle is being drawn for that reason, it isn’t needed. The energies that are around us at all times are both positive and negative, and while you can definitely put a mental shield up to protect yourself against such energies that cause you stress or harm, an imaginary circle isn’t needed. but by all means if you feel a need for it, who am I to say you shouldn’t do it?

Lurking spirits aren’t relevant to me as I don’t believe in spirits or ghosts and let me tell you something honestly, I have NEVER cast a circle in ritual while doing magic and never had my spells backfire or had any negative response. Sure, I’ve had spells that didn’t work because I didn’t put the right amount of effort into them but that had nothing to do with not casting an invisible circle or because I didn’t make the backyard sacred enough. As far as unexpected visitors or animals, my cat is just as sacred as the tree is so I am not worried about his energies affecting my work.

Many other tools that a Wiccan might have are cauldrons, mortar and pestle, wands, specific colored candles, incense, specific books by well respected authors, etc. I use only the following: Incense, Oils, Sage, Candles and Dice. I use Tarot Cards on occasion for personal insight, not to read the future. I do believe that you have to use specific colors to achieve certain goals but at the same time I KNOW that this isn’t true, I have used a yellow candle, for example, to bring money into my life and it worked because ultimately the candle is just a tool, Magic comes from within me and around me but I NEED what I NEED at the moment and candle colors represents some inner need, so I embrace that at the moment.

Books are of my own choosing. I read what I am drawn to read. A lot of the times, the books on my shelves are devotionals from different religions or books on Wicca (because that’s all I can find) . I have heard from several Wiccans that we should not read books written by certain authors. Let me tell you, read whatever feels right to you, whatever you are drawn to. Don’t worry about what another person thinks about you or your path. Maybe you need to read something in that book to teach you a lesson?

Of course, we Shadak Witches also have 108 Books of Shadak that we draw inspiration and wisdom from. These books have been handwritten or typed out by modern-day Witches with computers and are leather bound. These books are filled with the thoughts, ideas and opinions of our family members as well as instructions, rules and rule changes, counsel decisions and more and are to be read alongside any other books of our choosing.

Most Wiccans I have met believe in the Summerlands or life after death, ghosts, and angels. I’ve even heard some Wiccans speak of demons, which are from the Christian religion. I suspect these are Wiccans who were raised around Christianity.

I believe that when a person dies, their energy is reabsorbed back into Nature, back into the Goddess. I don’t believe in a traditional afterlife, so no Summerlands, no angels, no ghosts, no demons. I don’t believe in Jesus either -shocking, huh?

My altar is very simple, as well. I have two altars at the moment because I am living in my own apartment and then, part time, with my boyfriend. Both altars are just flat wooden tables. Both have candles on them, incense, oils, sage, some dice, Tarot Cards, books, flowers in a vase. Nothing elaborate; no statues, no athames, no pictures of the lord and lady, no pentacles…though I do wear a pentacle necklace and a pentacle ring, Both to me represent that I am Pagan, that I believe in the 4 elements and spirit and the six senses.

Most Wiccans have a year-and a-day of study. They can start out a bright-eyed bushy-tailed young teen ager and a year later become a High Priestess who doesn’t even know how to read tarot cards!

In Witchcraft, there either is no degree system at all — because progress is marked personally by how much we have learned or how much we have experienced — or there is a personal degree system such as the one that I follow which takes many YEARS to get through until you can become a High Priest. There are six levels within each degree in the system I follow and you earn a level by reading certain books and doing what you are supposed to do in the books. You do a simplistic ritual to see if you have earned a level. The die is instrumental in determining this.

Wiccans care very much about the rede and law of three. They don’t hurt people willy-nilly. But in The Tradition of Witchcraft I was raised in, we must wait for certain changes to happen. We must wait for the doors to open. This means that if I want to go to college, I must read The Books, cast the dice and wait for that door to open, Wiccans may just apply and attend school, not thinking about whether or not this is their intended path, whether or not they have taken a slot that someone else was supposed to have, etc. After all, what rule is there to follow other than the rede?

As far as sex, the body, life on Earth, we have similar views. Sex is sacred to most Wiccans and Witches and whatever someone does, as long as there isn’t harm, is all right. I’m gay and that’s perfectly accepted in both paths. The body is Holy.

Many Wiccans I have encountered tell me that Wicca is the religion and Witchcraft is just Magic. Magic is Magic, folks. You can be a Witch and NEVER practice Magic. There are many Traditions out there called Witchcraft and these people consider this to be their religion or spiritual path, as I do! If someone asked me what my religion was, I would say I am a Unitarian Universalist and a Solitary Eclectic Witch. I might also say that I am a Shadak Witch because Shadakism is the name of the tradition that I was raised in, It would depend on how much time I wanted to invest in explaining myself to the person I was talking with.

Magic is such a small part of being a Witch. I think I have been a Witch for 29 years and have done only about 50 spells in that entire time. Most of what I do is worship Nature, cook, garden, read, contemplate, dance, chant, cleanse, clean, watch TV, listen to music, have sex, walk in the woods, swim and cast dice, which are all parts of being a Witch. You should embrace your spiritual life as well as your ‘mundane’ life.

‘Blessed Be’ is usually a Wiccan saying, much like Merry Meet or Merry Part. Most Witches won’t say this when you meet them. It’s one good way to tell if the person you are speaking with is a Witch or a Wiccan… but some Witches will use the term if they are speaking with someone else who uses it. For example, my sister is Wiccan and will often end our conversations with “Blessed Be!” and out of respect I will also say it.

So, out of respect for the Wiccans who chose to read this, I say, “Blessed Be”!

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Let’s Talk Witch – Your Magical Tools


Fairy Comments & Graphics

Your Magical Tools

Tools can be helpful in creating a magical life. In Wicca, certain objects are traditionally used in ritual to help invoke the Deities, banish negativity, or direct energy. Your Craft tools can help you create the proper frame of mind or atmosphere for your magical work. They don’t need to be elaborate, but they should be special to you.

To better understand the role your tools play, think back to a time when you dressed up for a job interview or an important social event. What you wore made you feel better about yourself, and thus improved your chances for a successful outcome. You knew that your clothes didn’t really have magical powers, but there was no question that having the right outfit and accessories boosted your self-confidence, and THAT is why these things are important. Magical tools work the same way. They are a part of our rituals because they can help us focus our thoughts and generate the ideal atmosphere to work in.

In the next post, you will find a list of the most common tools and their general uses. While these items are not required to practice Wicca, you may want to collect some of them to enrich your rituals. You can shop for these tools in our Magical Store, or search through antique and second-hand shops for them. Some prefer to make their tools and infuse them with a little of their own energy.

In addition to the standard tools like the athame, cauldron or broom, use tools such as relaxing nature sounds and music, fragrance or aromatherapy, and candles, stones, pendants or even wands, to help you focus your thoughts. Just remember, these are ONLY tools, and not the real source of your power.

Wicca: A Beginner’s Guide to Earth Magic (Living Wicca Today Book 2)
Kardia Zoe

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Let’s Talk Witch – The Spiral of Rebirth

The Spiral of Rebirth

 

Reincarnation seems to be one of the most controversial spiritual topics of our time. Hundreds of books are being published on the subject as if the Western world had only recently discovered this ancient doctrine.

 

Reincarnation is one of Wicca’s most valuable lessons. The knowledge that this life is but one of many, that when the physical body dies we do not cease to exist but are reborn in another body answers many questions, but raises a few more.

 

Why? Why are we reincarnated? In common with many other religions, Wicca teaches that reincarnation is the instrument through which our souls are perfected. One lifetime isn’t sufficient to attain this goal; hence, the consciousness (soul) is reborn many times, each life encompassing a different set of lessons, until perfection is achieved.

 

No one can say how many lives are required before this is accomplished. We are human and it’s easy to fall into non-evolutionary behavior. Greed, anger, jealousy, obsession and all our negative emotions inhibit our growth.

 

In Wicca, we seek to strengthen our bodies, minds and souls. We certainly live full, productive earthly lives, but we try to do so while harming none, the antithesis of competition, intimidation and looking out for number one.

 

The soul is ageless, sexless, non-physical, possessed of the divine spark of the Goddess and God. Each manifestation of the soul (i.e., each body it inhabits on Earth) is different. No two bodies or lives are the same. If this wasn’t so, the soul would stagnate. The sex, race, place of birth, economic class and every other individuality of the soul is determined by its actions in past lives and the lessons necessary to the present.

 

This is of utmost importance in Wiccan thought: we decide the lay of our lives. There’s no god or curse or mysterious force of fate upon which we can thrust the responsibility for the trials in our lives. We decided what we need to learn in order to evolve, and then, it is hoped, during incarnation, work toward this progress. If not, we regress into darkness.

 

As an aid in learning the lessons of each life, a phenomenon exists which has been called karma. Karma is often misunderstood. It is not a system of rewards and punishments, but a phenomenon that guides the soul toward evolving action. Thusly, if a person performs negative actions, negative actions will be returned. Good brings good. With this in mind, there’s little reason to act negatively.

 

Karma means action and that’s how it works. It is a tool, not a punishment. There’s no way one can “wipe out” karma, and neither is every seemingly terrible event in our lives a byproduct of karma.

 

We learn from karma only when we’re aware of it. Many look into their past lives to discover their mistakes, to uncover the problems inhibiting progress in this one. Trance and meditation techniques can help here, but true self-knowledge is the best means of accomplishing this.

 

 
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Scott Cunningham

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Wicca v Witchcraft

Wicca v Witchcraft

Author: Irishdize

What are some of the differences between a Witch and a Wiccan?

Wiccans believe in and worship deities, usually a male and female God or a God and Goddess. Most Witches either worship only the Goddess or see the Goddess as a personification of nature, as I do. Wicca is one religion with laws, such as the Wiccan rede and the law of three. The rede says ‘an it harm none, do what ye will’. While I think it’s a wonderful law that covers just about everything you could ever wonder about, I don’t and cannot follow it. I simply instead do the best I can, given my circumstances. I don’t believe in ‘the law of three’ either which is whatever I send out ‘will come back to me times three’. I certainly believe in the law of Return, but it doesn’t work in quite the same way. Whatever I send out does return, but right away and is usually the exact same lesson reversed back at me. As you might surmise, I am not Wiccan.

Another key difference is that Wiccans will generally take gods and goddesses from mythology and call upon them for certain help, such as calling Aphrodite when they are doing a love spell. I simply do not need to use mythological deities to make my magic work; Magic is using natural energies that exist within me and around me in Nature to bring about change. In fact, one can believe that God doesn’t exist and still work Magic. Wiccans have a Wheel of the Year that they celebrate. There are eight holidays — starting on Oct 31st ‘Samhain’ or the Witches New Years. Their holiday structure has four high holy days and four low days as well as 13 Moons, some full and some new, when Magic is usually worked or divination is usually done.

I have random ritual days wherein I will spend the entire day or night in ritual, reading, contemplating, spirit dancing, or just connecting to the trees, rocks, the grass, whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes I will watch spiritually uplifting movies or listen to Native American music. Sometimes, I will just sleep or do readings by dice and Tarot. It’s all unplanned and very spontaneous whereas in Wicca, it’s usually planned down to the letter. Spells are written out before they are performed, as are rituals and of course, as I said, they know what day is a ritual day and what not. Most Wiccans I have encountered believe that their strongest magic can only happen on Full and New Moons. I disagree completely. Magic comes from within; it doesn’t matter what day or night one performs it and it doesn’t matter how well written your spell is or what tools you have (if you even have any tools) .

Most Wiccans have many tools and an Athame to direct energy or cast the circle. This is done for many reasons I am told: to create sacred space, to have a protective barrier against negative energies, lurking spirits or unexpected Visitors (human or animal) or to keep the magic within the circle until they are ready to send it out to do its purpose.

Witches like myself generally see no reason for a circle. Nature is holy; The Universe is Divine. There is no place in Nature that is not sacred already to us, so if the circle is being drawn for that reason, it isn’t needed. The energies that are around us at all times are both positive and negative, and while you can definitely put a mental shield up to protect yourself against such energies that cause you stress or harm, an imaginary circle isn’t needed. but by all means if you feel a need for it, who am I to say you shouldn’t do it?

Lurking spirits aren’t relevant to me as I don’t believe in spirits or ghosts and let me tell you something honestly, I have NEVER cast a circle in ritual while doing magic and never had my spells backfire or had any negative response. Sure, I’ve had spells that didn’t work because I didn’t put the right amount of effort into them but that had nothing to do with not casting an invisible circle or because I didn’t make the backyard sacred enough. As far as unexpected visitors or animals, my cat is just as sacred as the tree is so I am not worried about his energies affecting my work.

Many other tools that a Wiccan might have are cauldrons, mortar and pestle, wands, specific colored candles, incense, specific books by well respected authors, etc. I use only the following: Incense, Oils, Sage, Candles and Dice. I use Tarot Cards on occasion for personal insight, not to read the future. I do believe that you have to use specific colors to achieve certain goals but at the same time I KNOW that this isn’t true, I have used a yellow candle, for example, to bring money into my life and it worked because ultimately the candle is just a tool, Magic comes from within me and around me but I NEED what I NEED at the moment and candle colors represents some inner need, so I embrace that at the moment.

Books are of my own choosing. I read what I am drawn to read. A lot of the times, the books on my shelves are devotionals from different religions or books on Wicca (because that’s all I can find) . I have heard from several Wiccans that we should not read books written by certain authors. Let me tell you, read whatever feels right to you, whatever you are drawn to. Don’t worry about what another person thinks about you or your path. Maybe you need to read something in that book to teach you a lesson?

Of course, we Shadak Witches also have 108 Books of Shadak that we draw inspiration and wisdom from. These books have been handwritten or typed out by modern-day Witches with computers and are leather bound. These books are filled with the thoughts, ideas and opinions of our family members as well as instructions, rules and rule changes, counsel decisions and more and are to be read alongside any other books of our choosing.

Most Wiccans I have met believe in the Summerlands or life after death, ghosts, and angels. I’ve even heard some Wiccans speak of demons, which are from the Christian religion. I suspect these are Wiccans who were raised around Christianity.

I believe that when a person dies, their energy is reabsorbed back into Nature, back into the Goddess. I don’t believe in a traditional afterlife, so no Summerlands, no angels, no ghosts, no demons. I don’t believe in Jesus either -shocking, huh?

My altar is very simple, as well. I have two altars at the moment because I am living in my own apartment and then, part time, with my boyfriend. Both altars are just flat wooden tables. Both have candles on them, incense, oils, sage, some dice, Tarot Cards, books, flowers in a vase. Nothing elaborate; no statues, no athames, no pictures of the lord and lady, no pentacles…though I do wear a pentacle necklace and a pentacle ring, Both to me represent that I am Pagan, that I believe in the 4 elements and spirit and the six senses.

Most Wiccans have a year-and a-day of study. They can start out a bright-eyed bushy-tailed young teen ager and a year later become a High Priestess who doesn’t even know how to read tarot cards!

In Witchcraft, there either is no degree system at all — because progress is marked personally by how much we have learned or how much we have experienced — or there is a personal degree system such as the one that I follow which takes many YEARS to get through until you can become a High Priest. There are six levels within each degree in the system I follow and you earn a level by reading certain books and doing what you are supposed to do in the books. You do a simplistic ritual to see if you have earned a level. The die is instrumental in determining this.

Wiccans care very much about the rede and law of three. They don’t hurt people willy-nilly. But in The Tradition of Witchcraft I was raised in, we must wait for certain changes to happen. We must wait for the doors to open. This means that if I want to go to college, I must read The Books, cast the dice and wait for that door to open, Wiccans may just apply and attend school, not thinking about whether or not this is their intended path, whether or not they have taken a slot that someone else was supposed to have, etc. After all, what rule is there to follow other than the rede?

As far as sex, the body, life on Earth, we have similar views. Sex is sacred to most Wiccans and Witches and whatever someone does, as long as there isn’t harm, is all right. I’m gay and that’s perfectly accepted in both paths. The body is Holy.

Many Wiccans I have encountered tell me that Wicca is the religion and Witchcraft is just Magic. Magic is Magic, folks. You can be a Witch and NEVER practice Magic. There are many Traditions out there called Witchcraft and these people consider this to be their religion or spiritual path, as I do! If someone asked me what my religion was, I would say I am a Unitarian Universalist and a Solitary Eclectic Witch. I might also say that I am a Shadak Witch because Shadakism is the name of the tradition that I was raised in, It would depend on how much time I wanted to invest in explaining myself to the person I was talking with.

Magic is such a small part of being a Witch. I think I have been a Witch for 29 years and have done only about 50 spells in that entire time. Most of what I do is worship Nature, cook, garden, read, contemplate, dance, chant, cleanse, clean, watch TV, listen to music, have sex, walk in the woods, swim and cast dice, which are all parts of being a Witch. You should embrace your spiritual life as well as your ‘mundane’ life.

‘Blessed Be’ is usually a Wiccan saying, much like Merry Meet or Merry Part. Most Witches won’t say this when you meet them. It’s one good way to tell if the person you are speaking with is a Witch or a Wiccan… but some Witches will use the term if they are speaking with someone else who uses it. For example, my sister is Wiccan and will often end our conversations with “Blessed Be!” and out of respect I will also say it.

So, out of respect for the Wiccans who chose to read this, I say, “Blessed Be”!

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: | 1 Comment

Magick is All Around Us

Magick is All Around Us

Author: Luna

Sometimes I get my inspirations from the simplest things. Sometimes it’s just a walk in the woods, and sometimes it’s the time of year or the holiday. Other times, it’s from interacting with a variety of people or animals, from playing with my dogs to working with native Chinese people. This time, inspiration came from somewhere I wasn’t expecting: one of the emails you guys have been sending me (thank you, thank you, thank you, by the way) .

A few weeks before writing this, I got an email from someone with a question I wasn’t quite expecting. The writer asked, “Do you think I can do magic with all this reality around me?” I have to admit that I’ve never been asked a question like that before. And, for a little while, I was confused as to how to respond to it. But then it came to me: perhaps the person who emailed me was having trouble sensing the magick in his everyday life and the forces he wanted to work with. This was something that I struggled with back when I first came to Wicca and that has taken practice for me to become good at. Not only that, but for many people coming to Wicca from a paradigm that sees magick as a thing of fantasy, this can be a really difficult barrier to overcome. So let’s talk about it a bit, shall we?

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this dilemma is the two different spellings that get used: magic and magick. With just the addition of a simple letter, we can change the meaning of what we would’ve thought of before as just one thing: a force of fantasy capable of creating great change and wonder but that is impossible to achieve in real life.

Now, you guys may or may not have noticed this, but in my essays for the Witches’ Voice, I tend to prefer the spelling with a k, and there is a reason for this. The main reason for this is to maintain a bit of separation between the magick I work with in my life and the magic I’m used to in role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and video games. When I first came to Wicca, I didn’t know that there could be one letter that could, for some of us, differentiate between two completely different concepts. And let me tell you, if you think I’m talking crazy again: I’m pretty sure throwing fireballs and a simple prosperity spell don’t fall under the same paradigm. That’s just my take on it. But I hope the explanation helps a little.

The next problem we come to in dealing with this barrier has to do with where we come from in terms of religion. I think I speak for a lot of us who came from either a Judeo-Christian background or from another religion that doesn’t see magick the same way that much of the Neopagan or at least the Wiccan community does. I know that for me, when I grew up, I didn’t think of magick in the same way. When I was younger, Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz provided my definitions of Witchcraft and magic. To my young mind, the only kind of magic I knew existed in fiction and wasn’t possible in real life.

Not only that, but growing up originally in the Christian faith, magic and religion didn’t mix. And I’m sure that, in some areas where you might live (and this is based only on my experience) , magick and Witchcraft are seen in a very different light. I’ve heard about so much about a number of Fundamentalists and some other sects of Christianity who denounce Wiccans and others as being in league with the devil or some such nonsense. Most if not all of us have at least heard of the Salem Witch Trials and other occurrences from what has been called the Burning Times. Now, even though I’ve left my Christian roots somewhat behind, I have a great respect for Christianity and many of its adherents. I have no problem with Christianity as a whole. It’s just some people who become very extreme and hateful about what I choose to believe and practice. I know it’s not always Christians who say these things, but it’s mainly what comes to mind. And I’m sure it’s what comes to mind for some of you, who came to Wicca or another Pagan path from a similar background to mine. And coming from a background and religious paradigm that sees magic as non-existent or confined to fiction (and those who claim to work as, at best, perhaps slightly delusional and, at worst, evil people) , accepting magick into the way one perceives reality can be rather challenging. Believe me when I say that I’ve been there and done that.
(I really hope I’m not confusing any newcomers with the whole magic/magick thing at this point…)

What’s important to keep in mind is that magick doesn’t work the same as how we’ve seen it in books, movies, video games, etc. Magick in reality is much more subtle; you don’t see people throwing fireballs at each other or calling down lightning from the sky because things don’t work that way. In fact, I like to think of how magick works in our world (as opposed to Harry Potter, great though the series is) as something akin to the wonders of a cup of tea. Why a cup of tea, you ask? Well, it may not seem like it’s doing much, but there is a certain calming power about it when you feel distressed (or, in the case of raspberry leaf tea, really helps out with bad and painful—uh, that might be TMI) . That, and it reminds me of something my dad said when I came out of the broom closet to him. While it was obvious (as many of you know from reading my essays) that my dad would see magick as being impossible, he is more than willing to admit the wonders of cup of tea has when I’m having a nuclear meltdown. I must admit that a part of me giggled inside, thinking, “Uh, Dad? That can be magick too.”

It’s often in the little things that we wouldn’t think of as magick or wouldn’t tend to notice. I often find that the magick I sense in the world always gives me a little tingle of excitement or is tied to an emotion. It could be the calming feeling that comes when watching the waves as they drift in and out with the tide. It could be the smell of a rose or any flower. It could be the sun shining down on you on a nice day (or in the midst of a ton of snow) . It could be that feeling you have when you’re with the one you love, that tender moment when you kiss. For me, this magick I sense often comes when I’m swimming, usually in a lake or in the ocean (chlorinated pool water doesn’t cut it for this type of experience, too many chemicals) . For some reason, whenever I get farther out into the water or even when I’m in open water with only a boat nearby, I feel this surge of energy and giddiness. One thing to try is to really pay attention to those feelings and sensations. At least from my experience, they can definitely be magickal.

The last barrier I wan to talk about in talking about magick in one’s life is visualization. Some of us come to Wicca or another Pagan path with a lack of practice in visualization. Now, I talked about this in my “The Importance of Basic Techniques” essay way back when, but visualization is an essential to magickal workings as well as other aspects of a Pagan faith. For many who come to Wicca or another path from a background that doesn’t see magick as part of reality, sometimes a lack of visualization skills can impact their first attempts to work with magick. Believe me, that was I a few years ago when I was first starting out. However, with some practice, I’ve found that this is the easiest barrier to overcome, especially once the importance of this technique has been explained properly. I’ve received an email in response to that essay that thanked me for clearing up why it was so important, as the sender had merely been told to practice these techniques without any explanation as to why it mattered (I really do enjoy some of the responses I get) .

So, thinking back to “The Importance of Basic Techniques” and my evening with Max, I want you to try this exercise, if you care to oblige me (you don’t have to) . Go ahead and hold your hands a little ways apart from each other and try to feel a ball of energy between them. Nothing yet? Now try it again but try to clearly picture the ball in your mind. It doesn’t matter is how big the ball is, but I want you to actively visualize it. Picture a ball forming between your hands. It can be any color you like and can take on any aspect. Are you seeing a difference? Even if you don’t see anything (which may not happen; it didn’t for me before) , you can probably feel something keeping your hands from coming together. Visualization definitely makes a difference in that exercise.

I’m going to leave you with a few resources that really address some of the questions about magick and visualization for those who are still having trouble. The first one is, of course, the “Wicca First Degree” videos from user MagickTV on YouTube. I mentioned them back when I talked about basic techniques, but I want to give it another mention and a recommendation to check out the rest of the series as well. In particular, the exercises they give in addition to the main lessons are extremely helpful when working on visualization. Along with that, I’ve got a bit of reading material for you as well. The two main books I want to recommend are “The Inner Temple of Witchcraft” by Christopher Penczack and “Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal and Practical Magick” by Ellen Dugan. These two books place a lot of emphasis on visualization and psychic/magickal development for the beginner, and they’ve been a big help to me.

So, in conclusion, is it hard to sense magick in our everyday lives? For some of us, it can be, especially when we take our first few tentative steps down our chosen paths. Is it there, part of the reality around us? Of course it is, even if we don’t always notice it. And, to answer the question posed to me by a curious reader, can you work magick with all this reality around us? Yes, you can. It may be difficult at times, and you may find that some techniques may not work as well for you. But so long as you keep an open mind and an open heart, and as long as the work is meaningful to you, I personally see no reason why you can’t.

Magick is everywhere around us, part of the reality we live. And, for my part at least, it’s one of the things that makes life and spirituality truly special for any young Pagan, Wiccan or Witch.

__________________________________________
Footnotes:
“You Don’t Always Need Magick” by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15186

“The Importance of Basic Techniques” by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15057

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Basic Principles and Concepts of Wicca

Basic Principles and Concepts of Wicca

Introduction:

There’s an old saying that if you ask any ten Wiccans about their religion, you’ll get at least fifteen different answers. That’s not far from the truth, because with hundreds of thousands of Americans practicing Wicca today (and the actual numbers are unclear), there are thousands of different Wiccan groups out there. There is no one governing body over Wicca, nor is there a “Bible” that lays down a universal set of guidelines. While specifics vary from one tradition to the next, there are actually a few ideals and beliefs common to nearly all modern Wiccan groups.

Do keep in mind that this article is primarily focused on Wiccan traditions, rather than on the principles of non-Wiccan Pagan belief systems. Not all Pagans are Wiccans, and not all Pagan traditions have the same set of principles as the core beliefs of modern Wicca.

Origins of Wicca:

Wicca as a religion was introduced by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. Gardner’s tradition was oathbound, initiatory, and secret. However, after a few years splinter groups began forming, and new traditions were formed. Today, many Wiccan groups owe their basic foundation to the principles laid out by Gardner. Wicca is not an ancient religion, but Gardner did incorporate some old esoteric knowledge into his original tradition, including Eastern mysticism, Kabballah, and British legend.

Who Is a Wiccan, and How Do You Find Them?:

Wiccans come from all walks of life. They are doctors and nurses, teachers and soccer moms, writers and firefighters, waitresses and computer programmers. In other words, anyone can be Wiccan, and people become Wiccan for many reasons. In fact, a recent study estimated nearly half a million Wiccans in the United States today – and frankly, that number seems inaccurately low. As to where to find them, that might take a bit of digging — as a mystery religion that doesn’t proselytize or actively recruit, it can sometimes be difficult to find a group in your area. Never fear, though — the Wiccans are out there, and if you ask around enough, you’ll bump into one eventually.

Calling Upon the Divine:

Wicca acknowledges the polarity of the Divine, which means that both the male and female deities are often honored. A Wiccan may honor simply a non-specific god and goddess, or they may choose to worship specific deities of their tradition, whether it be Isis and Osiris, Cerridwen and Herne, or Apollo and Athena. In Gardnerian Wicca, the true names of the gods are revealed only to initiated members, and are kept secret from anyone outside the tradition.

Initiation and Degree Systems:

In most Wiccan covens, there is some form of initiation and a degree system. Initiation is a symbolic rebirth, in which the initiant dedicates themselves to the gods of their tradition. Typically, only an individual who has attained the rank of Third Degree dedicant may act as a High Priest or High Priestess. Study is required before an individual may advance to the next degree level, and often this is the traditional “year and a day” period.

Someone who is not a member of a coven or formal group may choose to perform a self-dedication ritual to pledge themselves to the gods of their path.

Magic Happens:

The belief in and use of magic and spellwork is nearly universal within Wicca. This is because for most Wiccans, there’s nothing supernatural about magic at all — it’s the harnessing and redirection of natural energy to effect change in the world around us. In Wicca, magic is simply another skill set or tool. Most Wiccans do use specific tools in spellcrafting, such as an athame, wand, herbs, crystals, and candles. Magical workings are often performed within a sacred circle. The use of magic is not limited only to the priesthood — anyone can craft and perform a spell with a little bit of practice.

The Spirit World is Out There:

Because the concept of an afterlife of some sort is typical in most branches of Wicca, there is a general willingness to accept interaction with the spirit world. Seances and contact with the unknown are not uncommon among Wiccans, although not all Wiccans actively seek communication with the dead. Divination such as tarot, runes, and astrology are often used as well.

What Wicca Isn’t:

Wicca does not embrace the concepts of sin, heaven or hell, the evils of sex or nudity, confession, Satanism, animal sacrifice, or the inferiority of women. Wicca is not a fashion statement, and you do not have to dress a certain way to be a “real Wiccan.”

Basic Beliefs of Wicca:

While not exclusive to every single tradition, the following are some of the core tenets found in most Wiccan systems:

  • The Divine is present in nature, and so nature should be honored and respected. Everything from animals and plants to trees and rocks are elements of the sacred. You’ll find that many practicing Wiccans are passionate about the environment.
  • The idea of karma and an afterlife is a valid one. What we do in this lifetime will be revisited upon us in the next. Part of this idea of a cosmic payback system is echoed in the Law of Threefold Return.
  • Our ancestors should be spoken of with honor. Because it’s not considered out of the ordinary to commune with the spirit world, many Wiccans feel that their ancestors are watching over them at all times.
  • The Divine has polarity — both male and female. In most paths of Wicca, both a god and goddess are honored.
  • The Divine is present in all of us. We are all sacred beings, and interaction with the gods is not limited just to the priesthood or a select group of individuals.
  • Holidays are based on the turning of the earth and the cycle of the seasons. In Wicca, eight major Sabbats are celebrated, as well as monthly Esbats.
  • Everyone is responsible for their own actions. Personal responsiblity is the key. Whether magical or mundane, one must be willing to accept the consquences — either good or bad — of their behaviour.
  • Harm none, or something like it. While there are a few different interpretation of what actually constitutes harm, most Wiccans follow the concept that no harm should intentionally be done to another individual.
  • Respect the beliefs of others. There’s no Recruiting Club in Wicca, and the Wiccans are not out to preach at you, convert you, or prosetylize. Wiccan groups recognize that each individual must find their spiritual path on their own, without coercion. While a Wiccan may honor different gods than you do, they will always respect your right to believe differently.

 

 

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Traditional vs. Eclectic: We’re Not “All One Wicca”

Traditional vs. Eclectic: We’re Not “All One Wicca”

Author: Hexeengel

[Please note: For the purposes of this piece, the terms “Wicca” and “Wiccan (s) ” will refer to the British Traditional family of religious Witchcraft Traditions and those who follow them, the Traditions then including, but not limited to, such lines as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Moshian, Blue Star, etc. “Neo-Wicca” and “Neo-Wiccan (s), ” then, indicate the perhaps more wide-spread and certainly more widely known Eclectic (and often Solitary) practices espoused by such authors as Scott Cunningham, Fiona Horne, Silver Ravenwolf, and others, the majority of them published by Llewellyn Books. I also use the term “Witch” interchangeably with “Wiccan, ” since nearly all Wiccans contend that they are indeed Witches.]

Anyone who’s been a part of the Wiccan or Neo-Wiccan communities for more than a week is undoubtedly aware of the schism between these two groups. The cause of much frustration for Wiccans is that some Neo-Wiccans misunderstand the distinction made between the practices. Wiccans contend that, while there is nothing wrong or bad or invalid or worthless about the practices of Neo-Wiccans, it is nonetheless a separate and distinct practice (or practices, as Neo-Wicca is Eclectic, after all) from Wicca; neither is better (except in a personal preference, subjective sense), but they are certainly different.

Many Neo-Wiccans, on the other hand, dislike that this distinction is made at all. Some are even offended by the use of “Neo-Wicca” or any classification other than “Wicca, ” but are yet very adamant that “we don’t do that, ” meaning that they find some aspects of Wicca ridiculous, unnecessary, or even offensive. It leads one to ask, if it’s all the same thing, then why isn’t it all… well, the same?

This piece is meant to serve as an outline of how much these two groupings of paths really do differ, and to explain some of the more controversial aspects of Wicca that draw much negative attention and criticism from some Neo-Wiccans. The biggest dividing factor, that then encompasses others, is the Wiccan practice of oathbound secrecy.

Many Wiccan Traditions are esoteric, oathbound practices. This means that there are certain things that are not to be revealed to non-initiates, and that initiates swear an oath to protect those aspects (an oath that they are then expected to keep for the rest of their lives, even if they choose to leave the Tradition at a later time). This is not meant to be used as an ego-trip or a form of elitism, but is instead in place to protect the experience of the Tradition and its rites and Mysteries. However, Wiccans do not contend that their path is the only way one may reach and experience the Mysteries, just that this is the way that suits them. What is usually kept secret, then, are the names of the Gods, the specifics of ritual, the identities (Magickal and mundane) of those who participate in the rituals, the tools used in ritual, and any other non-ritual contents of the Tradition’s Book of Shadows.

God-names are kept secret because They (the God and Goddess honored) are considered “tribal, ” wholly unique to the Tradition. In non-initiate training rituals, a Priest and Priestess may choose to utilize place-holder names of similar Deities, ones with compatible traits, qualities, and associations. However, some may choose to simply use the non-specific terms “God and Goddess” or “Lord and Lady” instead of proper names. That decision is left up to the Priest and Priestess of the ritual/group. If place-holder names are used, they are then a tool to help teach those in training about the God and Goddess they will meet and commune with during and after initiation, so that there will be some degree of familiarity once the initiate comes to face the Gods of their chosen Tradition.

The specifics of ritual, as was aforementioned, are not told to non-initiates to protect the experience. Think of it this way; you and a friend both want to see a newly premiered movie, and your friend gets the opportunity to attend a showing before you do. How impolite and improper would it be for your friend to not only tell you every single detail of the film (including the ending), but also the emotions it will evoke from you, and the impact it would have on your life in general? I’m betting anyone would be pretty darn upset.

This is the same reasoning behind Wiccan rituals being kept secret, so that each initiate who experiences them does so as “untainted” as possible. This explains secrecy in regards to those seeking initiation, but for those who do not, a similar analogy is appropriate; if you see a movie but your friend has absolutely no interest in it, regardless of your opinion of said movie, they probably won’t want to hear about it at all. The logic then is that, since those not seeking initiation are assumed to be uninterested in the Tradition all together, what reason do they have to concern themselves with its practices?

Additionally, this secrecy maintains the authenticity of the rituals, and also the integrity of the initiating line back to the Tradition’s founder. Thus, the rituals cannot be altered or misused, and only those experienced in the Tradition’s Mysteries can go on to teach them to others.

As far as participants’ identities go, that’s fairly self-explanatory on one level; “outing” someone as a Witch is not something taken lightly, regardless of where one counts one’s self on the spectrum Wicca has become. But there is another level to it, in that Wiccans tend keep their lineage oathbound as well. One’s lineage is the line of initiating High Priestesses that leads from one initiate back to the founder of the Tradition, be they Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders, etc.

And lastly, the tools used and the other, non-ritual contents of the Book of Shadows (BoS) are oathbound because they are related to the specifics of Wiccan practice and experience, and so revealing them can take away from those elements, just as describing pivotal scenes from a movie can taint the enjoyment of the whole thing.

These levels of secrecy and occultism (where “occult” takes on its more accurate meaning of “hidden or secret; to be known only by the initiated”) are a stumbling block to some Neo-Wiccans; they cannot fathom the reasons other than to make Wiccans feel special or better somehow, but as illustrated above, there are very real and important reasons.

Some folks though cannot find it in themselves to abide by these guidelines, but still feel the desire to walk a similar path. Partly because of this, Neo-Wicca and its policy of openness and universality were born. Neo-Wiccans are free to follow any and all God forms that may call or appeal to them, regardless of cultural or religious origin. Neo-Wiccans are also more prone to share their ritual scripts and spells with others. Some even post the entirety of their BoSs online or otherwise make it available for public consumption, such as through published books, which then are a large part of Neo-Wiccan learning materials.

Conversely, learning Wicca involves a specified path that utilizes the repetition of form to facilitate function; the actual movements and words are the same at each ritual, however it is the experience that differs and is truly the most important. This is an orthopraxic approach, that of correct practices leading to Divine experience, rather than orthodoxic, that of correct belief.

While many of us have come to associate “orthodox” with meaning oppressive or outdated and referring specifically to Christianity as often as not, if one simply takes the word at its face value, then Neo-Wicca is in fact an orthodox practice; as long as one believes the “right” things, then one is Neo-Wiccan and then can practice it in whatever fashion one desires.

But what are the “right” beliefs? Is it the duality and balance of God and Goddess? Not according to those called Dianic Wiccans, who hold the Goddess superior to the God, if He is even recognized at all. Additionally, as stated before, Wiccan God names are specific to each Tradition and oathbound, so by default Neo-Wiccans do not and cannot honor the God and Goddess by those same identities, so neither does “right belief“ include the specific Deity forms.

Is it then following the Wiccan Rede? That’s not it either, since there are practitioners out there who discard the Rede all together and still lay claim to the “Wiccan title” (and yes, I’m aware that “rede” means “counsel or advice” and not “commandment, ” but I’ve yet to encounter a Wiccan who thinks its irrelevant).

What about celebrating the Sabbats? Well, okay, almost anyone along the Wicca/Neo-Wicca spectrum can agree that these eight points of the year are important, but what’s not agreed on is how one celebrates them, or even what they’re called (as far as I can tell, only Samhain, Yule, and Beltane are universally used names, the rest can vary). In some cases, the dates are even in dispute, since there are those who figure the Greater Sabbats relative to the Lesser Sabbats each year, marking them as the precise midpoints between the astronomical Solstices and Equinoxes rather than the “fixed” dates of the common calendar.

This final point segues nicely into another striking difference, that of ritual form and elements. Not all Neo-Wiccans cast a Circle in the same way nor include all the same components as others (in some cases, even the rituals for the same event differ each time they are performed) , and being that Wiccan ritual structure is oathbound, one can infer that Neo-Wiccan rituals bear little, if any, resemblance to their Traditional counterparts. If Wicca and Neo-Wicca was indeed the same thing, wouldn’t we all use the same rituals, honoring the same God forms in the same ways?

Wiccans also contend that only a Wiccan can make another Wiccan, that one cannot enter Wicca without someone to teach and guide them. A popular Neo-Wiccan counter to this comes from Scott Cunningham, and is something along the lines of, “but who made the first Wiccan? The God and Goddess. So who are we to be so bold and presumptuous as to usurp and appropriate Their power? Who has the real power to make a Wiccan?”

I can agree to a certain extent; the Wiccan Gods are responsible, to a degree, for Wicca’s existence, in that They provided the original inspiration, need, and desire for a way to honor Them. However, I also believe They intended for things to be done in just that way, else why would They have put the idea in a human mind? Why the need for rituals at all, if any way one honors them is acceptable?

Let me clarify – when I say “the Wiccan Gods, ” I mean those names, faces, forms, aspects, and attributes that are oathbound and specific to the Traditions of Wicca. If Gods other than those have different desires and requirements, then so be it, but then They are not the Gods of Wicca, and therefore need not be honored in the Wiccan way.

The Wiccan way is one practiced by humans to reach out to and commune with the Wiccan Gods, and therefore only one who knows that way can teach that way. A dentist, while a medical professional, cannot teach someone to perform open-heart surgery. So it follows that someone inexperienced in the Wiccan Mysteries, regardless of any other gnosis, knowledge, and experience they may have gained, cannot teach them to anyone.

To add to this, in Wicca the initiating High Priest and High Priestess are seen as representations and “substitutes, ” if you will, of the God and Goddess on this material plane. They are infused with Divine Will and Power at the time of initiation (and in all other rites), so in the realism of non-duality, it IS the God and Goddess who are making new Wiccans, not “merely” other humans. However, the HP and HPS are specifically chosen and trained to perform these duties using the structure and methods of their Tradition.

A Neo-Wiccan, or anyone else who is not HP or HPS even if he/she is a Wiccan initiate, has no such training, and so cannot perform an initiation rite as the representative of the Wiccan Gods.

Clearly there is great disparity between not only practice, but also belief, between those called Wiccans and Neo-Wiccans. All this points to Neo-Wicca being an outgrowth of Wicca, rather than a continuation of it, much like Buddhism was an outgrowth of Hinduism. Buddhism and Hinduism both include the ideas of Karma, Dharma, and Samsara, Yantras, etc., but they differ on the nature and application of these ideas.

Buddhists do not recognize a pantheon of Gods in the way Hindus do, and also do not perform elaborate rituals. The two paths do have commonalities, but are distinct and separate belief systems. It would be improper, inaccurate, and doing a disservice to both paths if one was to say they are the same.

This can also be applied to Wicca and Neo-Wicca; Wicca recognizes a specific set of Gods, while Neo-Wicca does not. Wicca includes much formality and formulary in its rituals, which is not necessarily true of Neo-Wicca. They are related practices, one springing from the other, but they are fundamentally different, and it is improper, inaccurate, and doing a disservice to both to try and say that they are the same.

Of course, it’s all very well and good for these kinds of things to be said by someone who prefers Wicca to Neo-Wicca, someone who is seeking to walk the Gardnerian path. I concede that it would be far more impacting and impressive had this article or one similar been written by a Neo-Wiccan, because there’d be less risk of accusations of elitism, or discrimination, or exclusion. If, however, any Neo-Wiccan found truth in what I’ve presented here, I encourage them to write a similar piece, putting the focus on their practices, revealing the value and beauty that perhaps stems from the differences, rather than in spite of them.

What are the benefits of Solitary work? How is self-study more fulfilling than working under another’s tutelage? How does the tapestry of cultures and customs enrich your practice; is the old adage, “student of many trades, master of none” inaccurate?

I’m not personally looking to be convinced, I’ve found my home and my path, but that kind of piece may go a long way to strengthening other Neo-Wiccans’ sense of identity and purpose. And anyone finding peace and feeling whole on their spiritual journey is a beautiful thing, regardless of what that path may be called.

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Example # 1 of Different Archetypes – Working With Dark Archetypes


Autumn Comments & Graphics

Working With Dark Archetypes

 

One of the wonderful things about Wicca is that it does not assign a positive or negative dichotomy to the light and dark pairing that so many other religions do. Wiccans understand that light and dark are both necessary for the world to operate, and that a balance is constantly in motion. Dark defines light, just as light casts shadow to create dark.

No matter how comfortable Wiccans are with the concept of darkness, when it comes right down to working with dark deities, many shy away. They do not do so necessarily out of fear, but from a sense of respect and self-preservation: working with dark deities is usually a rough ride. This is not to say that working with bright deities is easy; bright deities are just as likely as dark deities to take your life firmly in hand and reshape it to what it should be. It’s simply that bright deities have gained a burnished appeal over time and are usually seen as gentler than the dark deities.

The amount of whitewashing and projected antiseptic illusions that cloak the bright deities often mislead people to think the bright deities are all sweetness and light. Most deities have a blend of dark and bright elements, and over time humanity has chosen to privilege one aspect over the other. Hecate was once a Thracian maiden goddess who cared for women in childbirth, and who carried a torch to guide those who needed direction. As she was absorbed into the Greek and Roman pantheons and their spiritual needs and outlook evolved, she became a crone goddess of terrifying curses and revenge, keeper of the ghosts and spirits of the murdered souls in the underworld. Brigid, pan-Celtic goddess of inspiration, has also been a goddess of defense and warcraft, a metalworker capable of crafting spears and swords for her people.

Dark is not the absence of light; by now you know that light does not equal good and beautiful and right, and dark does not equal evil or immoral, or even amoral. Dark means embracing the shadowed aspects of your personality and soul. This understanding should be incorporated into your practice.

Source

Solitary Wicca For Life: Complete Guide to Mastering the Craft on Your Own
Arin Murphy-Hiscock

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